The Los Angeles Angels are collectively off to a slow start.
That's because the biggest bat in their lineup, Albert Pujols, is enduring the least-powerful start of his career.
Pujols will try once again to recapture his home run stroke when the Angels send ace Jered Weaver to the mound Monday to open a four-game home set against Oakland Athletics.
Los Angeles (3-6) is beginning a seven-game homestand after capping a 2-4 road trip by dropping two of three in the Bronx, including an 11-5 loss to the New York Yankees on Sunday night.
"It's only nine games in," second baseman Howie Kendrick said. "I guess if we were playing a 10-game season, we'd be in trouble."
While it's very early, Pujols is trying to shake out of his slump and live up to the 10-year, $254 million free-agent contract he signed in the offseason. He's hitting .243 with four RBIs and no homers - the longest long-ball drought of his career to open a season.
Average-wise, Pujols endured an even worse start with St. Louis in 2011, batting .229 with one homer and six RBIs through the first 12 games. He finished the season batting .299 with 37 homers and 99 driven in - the average and RBIs were career lows, but still excellent marks.
Oakland (4-6) thinks the Angels are better than their record.
"You see the lineup - they're deep in the rotation, got some speed at the top and bottom and some power in the middle," A's manager Bob Melvin told his team's official website. "They haven't played great to this point, but I don't think there's any doubt about the fact that they're probably one of the better teams in the American League. We're going to have to play well."
Weaver (1-0, 3.21 ERA) looks to rebound from a rough outing in Wednesday's 6-5 loss at Minnesota. The right-hander didn't get a decision after surrendering five runs and seven hits in six innings. That was a dramatic change from his performance in the season opener April 6, when he struck out 10 in eight innings of a 5-0 victory over Kansas City.
Weaver has a 1.63 ERA in eight career home starts against Oakland, but just a 2-3 record to show for it due to a 2.9 run-support average.
The A's are off to a slow start of their own at the plate, hitting .201 overall and .148 with runners in scoring position. Searching for the right combination, Melvin used his eighth different lineup in Sunday's 5-3 loss at Seattle.
"I always feel like everyone's on the verge of swinging well," Melvin said. "And I really do think it's something where we get a nice game early on, string some hits together, you can gain some momentum from that. That'll be the key for us, to relax a bit.
"Everyone wants to be that guy right now to get us out of the little funk we're in."
Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks has one hit in each of his last four games. He's 3 for 7 with a homer off Weaver, and is batting .385 lifetime against the Angels.
The A's will give the ball to Brandon McCarthy (0-1, 2.50), who gets a fourth chance at his first win of 2012.
The right-hander allowed two runs in six innings of Oakland's 5-4, 12-inning win over Kansas City on Wednesday.
McCarthy has had little success in Anaheim, going 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in five games - four starts. He got tagged for seven runs and 14 hits in 5 1-3 innings of an 8-3 defeat in his most recent appearance there last April 26.
Oakland won the season series 11-8 last year, when the teams split 10 meetings in Anaheim.